Snag characteristics and dynamics following natural and artificially induced mortality in a managed loblolly pine forest
A 14-year study of snag characteristics was established in 41- to 44-year-old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) stands in southeastern USA. During the initial 5.5 years, no stand manipulation or unusually high-mortality events occurred. Afterwards, three treatments were applied consisting of trees thinned and removed, trees felled and not removed, and artificial creation of snags produced by girdling and herbicide injection. The thinned treatments were designed to maintain the same live canopy density as the snag-created treatment, disregarding snags that remained standing. Wemonitored snag height, diameter, density, volume, and bark percentage; the number of cavities was monitored in natural snags only. During the first 5.5 years, recruitment and loss rates were stable, resulting in a stable snag population. Large snags (¡Ý25 cm diameter) were common, but subcanopy small snags (10 to <25 cm diameter) dominated numerically. Large natural snags survived (90% quantile) significantly longer (6.0¨C9.4 years) than smaller snags (4.4¨C6.9 years). Large artificial snags persisted the longest (11.8 years). Cavities in natural snags developed within 3 years following tree death. The mean number of cavities per snag was five times greater in large versus small snags and large snags were more likely to have multiple cavities, emphasizing the importance of mature pine stands for cavity-dependent wildlife species.